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state library of queensland

The Times Digital Archive

By Christina Ealing-Godbold, Senior Research Librarian, Visitor and Information Services | 19 June 2020

Series: Our favourite State Library eresources.

People often ask us what our most loved eresources are. Admittedly we all have a favourite, or two, or three. It’s hard to pick as there are so many wonderful State Library eresources available. In this series our Librarians and Library Technicians share with you their most favourite eresources and how they’ve been used to solve research queries.

Next in the series we look at The Times Digital Archive, a big favourite of Senior Research Librarian, Christina Ealing-Godbold.

So why is The Times Digital Archive so fabulous?

With newspaper articles, observations and advertisements since 1785, The Times (London) has been in continuous publication through the French Revolution, the days of Victorian Britain and the wars and upheavals of the Twentieth century.  Useful for research in all disciplines, The Times Digital Archive allows access to the British view of the world, social trends and events for over two hundred years.

Best of all, you can access The Times Digital Archive online with your free State Library membership.

Image of home page of The Times Digital Archive database

Image of home page of The Times Digital Archive database.

Documenting events of the past.

The Times (London) is one of the great newspapers of the world.  Whilst it has a conservative view, as is usual for a leading newspaper from one of the world’s great commercial centres, it has reported on the activities of the entire globe and the far-reaching British Empire – from Australia, to India, to Ceylon and Hong Kong.  

Most importantly, for researchers and students of history, the articles were written at the time of the event, and therefore the reports are not skewed by hindsight. These valuable articles provide insight into how the events of the past were perceived at the time.

The Times Digital Archive, a Gale Primary Resource product, covers the years from 1785 to 2014.

Searching The Times Digital Archive.

The Basic Search allows topical searches such as “Spanish Influenza”, “Crimean War” or “Winston Churchill”.  However, Advanced Search is the most effective way of searching The Times Digital Archive. It allows you to define the date range of the historical event that interests you and the kind of information that you require – e.g. news, obituary or advertisement. You can filter your results by clicking on any of the options available on the right side of your list of results to make your search more specific.

Newspaper article from The Times Digital Archive database

"The Spanish Influenza", The Times (London), 25 June 1918, p.9.

If you select Advertisement rather than news in your Advanced Search, you may come across fascinating sales pitches such as this one for a preventative pill called Formamint.

Advertisment from The Times Digital Archive database

Advertisement for preventative pill called Formamint, The Times (London), 28 June 1918, p.8.

Finding more items.

Do you feel you are missing important information?  Perhaps your search did not return items that you expected to find.  At the side of each results page, there are three options:

  • Topic Finder combines the titles, subjects, and approximately the first 100 words from the results and feeds them into an algorithm. The keywords shown are those found most often in the text with your search term. Click on a tile among those listed in the coloured display to find more results e.g. Flu.
  • Topic Frequency enables you to see when your term occurred most frequently in the history of the newspaper, The Times (London).  “Spanish Influenza” did not only occur in 1918 through to the early 1920s but also in the 1890s (another version of influenza) and on other occasions.
  • Broadening your Search - Select the Gale Primary Sources cross-search to find results from additional archives available at your library.  State Library subscribes to British Library Newspapers and the Illustrated London News Historical Archive as well as the The Time Digital Archive.  All three wonderful database resources are provided by Gale and can be researched together by using this feature. By using this feature, you can limit your search to a specific newspaper, if you wish – e.g. the Hull Daily Mail from South Yorkshire or limit to a specific database – e.g. The Illustrated London News.

Saving your newspaper articles.

Saving the results as you search saves time and effort later.  With such an extensive database at your fingertips, there are many ways to search and obtain results.  Will you find the same items again next time you search?

As you search, activate one of the following options from the search bar above – 

  • Cite will give you the correct way to cite this reference
  • Send to allows you to send it to your email
  • Download delivers the item to your computer
  • Print allows you to produce a paper copy
  • Get Link allows you to obtain a permanent link for this item.

The Times Digital Archive provides a window into history – a way of understanding social trends and events seen through the eyes of those writing at the time.  By using the search options in this extensive database, more specific regional examples of your topic are revealed – from Aberdeen to Cornwall, British newspapers of the day provided local examples of national and international trends.

Join now and start searching The Times Digital Archive.

Look out for the next blog in this series #FavouriteEresources


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